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Rob Ford's Toronto
Re Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Dies At 46 (online, March 22): Driving to work each day, I still see a Stop sign with Rob Ford's name stuck on it, a "STOP ROB FORD!" leftover from when many of us, me included, couldn't wait to see him out of the mayor's office. I came to regret voting for him as he repeatedly embarrassed Toronto, so I am surprised at how oddly sad I feel in a city that seems emptier without him.
Helen Major Smith, Toronto
I think Torontonians owe Rob Ford a debt of gratitude. Rather than make Toronto a laughing stock, he actually made Toronto more interesting. He helped humanize a very stodgy, uptight, provincial burg.
Andrew van Velzen, Toronto
Rob Ford was not unlike a figure in a Shakespearean tragedy, including tragic flaw and tragic fall.
Jack McFadyen, Uxbridge, Ont.
Deficit vs. surplus
Re A Government's First Budget: The Day To Stand And Deliver (March 21): Barry Campbell reminds readers of his Liberal roots when he says that the "New Balance sneakers, as worn by Joe Oliver, spoke to wistful fiscal probity." Not really. My footwear clearly signalled that the budget was balanced. (The previous year had returned a surplus as well.) I had not contemplated that a successor Liberal government would introduce large deficits, so regretful longing for fiscal responsibility would come later.
In that connection, permit me to counter a prevailing urban myth. The current government was not left with a deficit. It was left with surpluses for the fiscal year to October and to November. For the latest numbers available to last December, the government posted a surplus of $3.2-billion. Those facts can be verified on the Department of Finance website.
Joe Oliver, former minister of finance, Toronto
No honour here
Re Ruling Slashes Amounts Owed By Senators (March 22): I am disappointed in the comments by former Supreme Court justice Ian Binnie related to his ruling in the Senate expenses scandal, and find myself far less sympathetic toward the senators in question.
Senate appointments go to individuals who have distinguished themselves in business, public life and leadership. Using the excuse that "rules are not clear" is the foundation of much white-collar crime, and to say that individuals who have been appointed to one of the highest offices in Canada may have overlooked the over-arching principles of what you can bill to the public purse convinces me that we have a number of senators who are not as distinguished as I had thought.
Those who have erred in this expense scandal should be deeply ashamed for using such a feeble excuse. The government would better serve public interests by denying the miscreants the use of the term "Honourable" in front of their Senate title. This would have more significance than token paybacks for using public money for personal leverage.
Richard Cook, Edmonton
Re Bombardier Defends Outsourcing Plan As Bailout Bid Draws Fresh Scrutiny (March 22): Weaken any of Canada's major aerospace original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – Bell Helicopter Textron Canada, Bombardier, CAE, Pratt & Whitney Canada – and you start eating away at the heart and soul of this high-tech sector and important source of wealth in our country. Life also becomes a lot more difficult for almost 1,000 aerospace suppliers in Ontario and Quebec.
What else do we risk? In Quebec alone, we put some of the sector's 40,000 jobs in peril. We compromise aerospace's ability to remain the province's top exporter and generate sales that in 2014 grew to $13.8-billion in Quebec. Canadian aerospace suppliers lose out on opportunities to become global, top-tier providers. Equally alarming are the patents, innovations, products and future capabilities that will never materialize.
If Canada wants to continue to have a strong aerospace industry – and we believe the sector is crucial to the country's future prosperity – it needs to help ensure that the sector's anchor companies thrive in the global arena.
Suzanne Benoît, president, Aéro Montréal
To make us hate
Re Scores Dead, Wounded As Terrorist Bombs Rock Brussels (March 22): These attacks are meant to make us hate. If we want to protect our way of life, the worst thing we can do is hate. We must remain resolved to welcome Middle East refugees and ignore the Donald Trumps of the world who want us raise walls for a phony sense of security.
Walls – the ones around countries, neighbourhoods, hearts – fence us in as well as others out.
Jennifer Mason, Vancouver
Arms deal? Like, duh
Re Saudi Arms Deal Challenged In Court (March 22): Last week, Justin Trudeau said he would continue to describe himself as a feminist "until it is met with a shrug," and that it is "just really, really obvious that we should be standing up for women's rights and trying to create more equal societies. Like, duh."
While this commitment to feminism, and equality generally, is admirable, it is impossible to reconcile his words with his decision to proceed with the $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive regimes in the world. Whatever legal and economic consequences might follow cancellation of the deal, morally, it is not complicated.
If we build and sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, we will have blood on our hands when they're used. This deal is a decidedly non-feminist act. One can be forgiven for thinking Mr. Trudeau would know this. Like, duh.
Bob McMaster, Cambridge, Ont.
Re Close, But No Cigars (editorial, March 22): You suggest that Cuba's "enterprising citizens have difficulty getting the supplies and parts they need" and that it is the American embargo which somehow reinforces the Cuban government's control over the economy.
How so? Why make the United States' trade with Cuba, or lack thereof through an embargo, the crux of the issue?
With or without an embargo from the U.S., Cuba can open itself to trade with other countries. If Cuba wanted to trade, there are other countries within Europe as well as China, Canada and Russia that could be or already are trading partners.
Let's argue economical systems (planned, free-market, mixed, etc.) and political systems (dictatorship, autocracy, democracy, etc.) as the distinct topics they are, please.
Michael A. Tukatsch, Toronto
It was amazing to see Raul Castro saluting the U.S. President with the Star Spangled Banner.
I half expected him to play Guantanamera instead.
Andrzej Derkowski, Oakville, Ont.